Bacteria caught evolving a major new ability.

An evolutionary biologist has watched a colony of E. coli evolve a stunning new capability, right in the lab. He let a single bacterium reproduce for 44,000 generations in twelve populations. It was just one of the populations that, around the 31,500th generation, suddenly developed the ability to metabolize citrate, thus doubling its available food […]

The Prius is (duh) environmentally superior to a Hummer.

A few months ago it was widely reported that, all inputs and outputs considered, a Hummer is more environmentally friendly than a Prius. That struck me as entirely plausible, because batteries are notoriously environmentally demanding. Now the Sierra Club has done the math and found that the Prius is far better than a Hummer, better […]

Our essential infections.

In the movie “Contact,” Jodie Foster plays an astronomer who discovers a signal that, when decoded, proves to be instructions to build an interdimensional spacecraft. Great story — great movie — but the book had a far more stunning premise. In that, Foster’s character takes up mathematics, and discovers that, at about a sextillion digits […]